While El Niño rains have brought some relief to drought-stricken California, Governor Jerry Brown appears to be concerned with the impact extreme weather could continue to have on agriculture in the state. His 2016 budget proposal includes almost $3.1 billion for programs that address climate change and the allotment for agricultural programs jumped from $15 million in 2015 to $100 million. Read more
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The dust is beginning to settle on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). And while the final guidelines turned out to be very similar to those from years past, they came close to changing in some very significant ways—including a recommendation that Americans consider sustainability when deciding what to eat. Read more
Seed company mergers have been all over the news lately. First, there was Monsanto’s rebuffed attempts to buy Syngenta, followed by a proposed merger between DuPont and Dow. Then, a Chinese company expressed interest in buying Syngenta, which lead to Syngenta’s renewed interest by Monsanto. As this chart by Michigan State University’s Phillip Howard shows, all this recent merger activity is the culmination of about two decades of the world’s largest seed companies swallowing up smaller companies by the score.
And while most of these developments have been reported as business stories, they also have huge implications for agriculture and our food supply. Read more
Bob Rheault was having an open house at his young shellfish hatchery, so he arrived early in the morning with bottles of wine and plates of cheese. That’s when he noticed he had a problem.
“There was an odd substance floating on the surface of the tanks,” Rheault says. He looked through a microscope, “and there were no bodies to be seen … just empty shells with bacteria climbing all over them.” Read more
After much public debate and anticipation—including Congressional hearings, nearly 30,000 public comments, and letters to cabinet secretaries from health professionals and elected officials—the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines were finally released yesterday.
And, as it turns out, they look a lot like the 2010 guidelines. As well as just about every other set of guidelines that have come out for the last 35 years.
As world leaders gather in Paris this week to negotiate a new global climate agreement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is sounding the alarm about the enormous challenges ahead for the food we eat. Read more
The Amazon is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. It is also diminishing rapidly. A new study published today in Science Advances looked at more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species and found that more than half of them may be at risk for extinction due to deforestation. This massive tree clearing threatens these forests’ biodiversity, their ability to mitigate climate change, and, in many places, the welfare and safety of local communities. Read more
Since Sam Kass left his position as assistant White House chef and executive director of the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign late last year, he has had no shortage of things to do. For one, he’s preparing to join the NBC News team as a senior food analyst. But first, Kass is planning some very important meals.
This December, 25,000 delegates from 190 nations will be meeting in Paris for the United Nation’s Conference of Parties or COP 21. The goal is to ensure every nation takes action to keep the average global temperature increase below 2 degrees centigrade by achieving a “binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.” Read more
Ever since Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm told Michael Pollan that he was a first and foremost a “grass farmer,” in one of the most well-known chapters of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the term has become commonplace among pasture-based farmers and ranchers working to raise animals on healthy grasslands. But what does it mean to farm grass in the American Southwest? Read more
If you’ve ever driven through the middle of the country, where single crops dominate the landscape for miles, you may think that the bulk of our farms grow just a few foods: corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice. Now, it turns out, you were right.
A new study published last month in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that U.S. crop diversity is significantly lower today than it was 30 years ago. So while it’s been a commonly held belief that U.S. farms are moving toward monoculture, and away from crop diversity, now there’s solid evidence to support that claim. Read more